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Meitzel, Tobias; Radchuk, Ruslana; McAdam, Erin L.; Thormaehlen, Ina; Feil, Regina; Munz, Eberhard; Hilo, Alexander; Geigenberger, Peter; Ross, John J.; Lunn, John E.; Borisjuk, Ljudmilla (2020): Trehalose 6-phosphate promotes seed filling by activating auxin biosynthesis. In: New Phytologist, Vol. 229, No. 3: pp. 1553-1565
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Plants undergo several developmental transitions during their life cycle. One of these, the differentiation of the young embryo from a meristem-like structure into a highly specialized storage organ, is believed to be controlled by local connections between sugars and hormonal response systems. However, we know little about the regulatory networks underpinning the sugar-hormone interactions in developing seeds. By modulating the trehalose 6-phosphate (T6P) content in growing embryos of garden pea (Pisum sativum), we investigate here the role of this signaling sugar during the seed-filling process. Seeds deficient in T6P are compromised in size and starch production, resembling the wrinkled seeds studied by Gregor Mendel. We show also that T6P exerts these effects by stimulating the biosynthesis of the pivotal plant hormone, auxin. We found that T6P promotes the expression of the auxin biosynthesis gene TRYPTOPHAN AMINOTRANSFERASE RELATED2 (TAR2), and the resulting effect on auxin concentrations is required to mediate the T6P-induced activation of storage processes. Our results suggest that auxin acts downstream of T6P to facilitate seed filling, thereby providing a salient example of how a metabolic signal governs the hormonal control of an integral phase transition in a crop plant.